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The Boston Globe


Book review

‘Al Capp’ by Schumacher and Kitchen

The difficulties that Massachusetts Republicans face in recruiting Senate candidates are nothing new. In 1970 they needed someone to challenge the young Senator Edward Kennedy, and they went so far as to court a politically conservative cartoonist and political ally of President Nixon — Al Capp, creator of the comic strip “Li’l Abner.”

By the time he entertained and rejected a run for office, Capp had created one of the most successful strips in the history of comics and helped pave the way for Walt Kelly’s “Pogo,” Garry Trudeau’s “Doonesbury,” and the “usual gang of idiots” at MAD magazine. He created an entire universe in Dogpatch, a rural backwater of dialect-drawling bumpkins who regularly got the better of city slickers, sophisticates, and plotting politicians. He brought political and social satire into a genre that had been the province of action stories and gag cartoons. And he enriched the popular lexicon with expressions such as “hogwash,” “double whammy,” “going bananas,” and “Sadie Hawkins Day.”

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